Thursday, May 03, 2007
Keith Norman did the right thing tonight.
The new chair of the SCDP, Keith Norman, handled a tricky situation properly tonight.
At the April meeting, he pushed back a motion to expel Richard Fields from the ExecCom to tonight, to allow each member the opportunity to review the indicting materials. Tonight, he allowed the charging member, Jennings Bernard, to make a one minute summation of the charges and establish his intent, and he allowed Richard Fields one minute to rebut, then he allowed the ExecCom members to ask questions of each.
Afterward, he revealed that he and the SCDP parliamentarian (sorry, don't know his name) had done their homework. After reviewing the SCDP bylaws AND contacting the TDP in Nashville, he noted that the time to have done something to remove Fields was at the Convention, by defeating him. Norman pointed out that the "crimes" Fields committed occurred when he was NOT a member of the ExecCom and thus, not eligible for action by the new ExecCom, and refused to allow a vote.
Chair Norman was ABSOLUTELY correct to do this. Simply put, the loyalty oath that one signs at the W/P Caucuses is tantamount to an absolution of your sins. Taken to the Nth degree, John Freaking Ryder could come up, sign that oath, and he would be protected by it until such time as he helped a Republican, which would be about 30 seconds.
I have to tell you, I firmly believe that if there had been a vote, Fields would most assuredly have been expelled. I know too many people who are still furious about the letter he sent out last year pointing out his beliefs that many of the judicial candidates endorsed by the party were unqualified. Fields hurt one of my friends, Regina Newman, with that letter, and I'm not all that thrilled with him, either.
However, the bylaws are the bylaws, and Norman was right. One of the Members was upset with the chair for having allowed debate and then quashing the vote; however, he let everyone vent (within reason), which may have dissipated some of the bad feelings.
I know my friend and brother, Del Gill, firmly felt that the chair was pontificating and directing the show too much, but I do not believe that he overstepped his bounds. I'm betting we're going to have to agree to disagree on that one.
My favorite part of the meeting was when John Marek, the man who rebuilt the U of M college Democrats singlehandedly, called out Bernard for supporting Jake Ford, and noting that if Bernard were held to this standard, he too would have to resign. I have to hand it to Bernard for his honesty, though, he noted that he absolutely takes race into account. While I amy not agree with it, that's being a stand-up guy.
On the whole, the Chair handled a delicate situation with class, strength and dignity, and I'm happy with that.